Family Counselling – Home Visits
As part of my practice, I occasionally perform home visits for families who wish to make use of my techniques to address issues. For some reason, which I suspect is for a number of reasons, they tend to involve sons and other young male members of the family, but that’s not important. What is is dealing with the questions they have.
Take this example. A friend who was a teacher told me of three young boys from her school, all from the same family, who she had overheard talking in the lunch room. They had watched a film with their parents, where a family were held hostage, and she could tell from the way they were talking they were upset at what they had seen – fearful as well. She had talked to their mother in the playground, and found out she and her husband had seen and heard the same thing, but did not know what to do about it. So my friend referred them to me, and they arranged for me to call on them one afternoon.
I started to talk to the boys – they were ten, nine and eight, the two older boys wearing sweaters and jeans, the youngest a red t-shirt and blue shorts. At first, we talked about everything but the film, but slowly I got them round to the topic of interest, and they told me they had been scared by what they saw – but also intrigued. They wondered what it felt like, but didn’t want to ask their parents in case they thought they were really “not right in the head” as the oldest boy put it.
So I suggested a game the three of them could play – and asked them if they knew of their parents having any washing lines they were not using. All four of us then went into the garage, where they showed me some red and yellow washing lines.
What I then did was volunteer to tie the three of them with the ropes. The youngest boy asked if I could tie him to a support in the garage, so we all walked over as he stood and then put his arms behind him, round the pole. I took the yellow washing line, and wrapped it round his upper body and the pole so that he was secured to it, then used the ends to tie his wrists together behind the pole itself.
His brothers looked at me as he laughed, and said it was nothing to be scared of, so they eagerly volunteered. With one of the red washing lines, I tied the middle son, his hands behind his back, then bands around his arms and body so that it looked like he had a red band over his jumper, then wound it down his legs so they were secured as well. For his older brother, I tied his wrists behind his back, and then his arms to his sides, before I cut the rope and then used the remainder to tie his ankles together.
I lowered the two boys to the floor, and then stood back as they rolled round, laughed, and had fun – as their mother and father watched. I had managed to take their fears, and make them into something positive…
Another home visit was at the request of two of my clients – Coral and her nineteen year old daughter Shona. They had used my services three years before, when they had been the victims of a home invasion – and I was aware that, after that time, they had continued to secure each other.
So I was surprised to be invited to their home one day, but I was glad to see both of them. Coral now had grey hair, and was wearing a grey cowl necked jumper with elbow length sleeves over a black top, dark jeans and knee length burgundy leather boots. Shona had a grey fleece on over a red jumper, jeans and long brown leather boots.
As it turned out, however, they wanted to see me for another reason – Coral’s sons, Jack and John. They had accidentally seen Shona while their mother was tying her up, and now – they had questions.
Questions both of them felt I was the best one to answer. Ones they wanted no part in answering until I had spoken to them – so before I went to talk to them, I had to make sure they could not interfere.
Both of them looked at me as I walked into the kitchen, saying I was asked by their mother to come and answer their questions. Jack was wearing a grey sweatshirt and joggers, John a black hoodie and jeans. They both looked at me, and said something like what questions?
I smiled, and said I had helped their mother and sister a few years ago with an issue. That caught their attention, so I started to tell them what I did, and how I helped those who had issues getting over past events to deal with them. That fascinated them, and then John asked how I would stop him from moving round.
All it needed was an old grey plastic chair, a long length of yellow tow rope, some green tape – and a very happy John after I had secured him to the chair and covered his mouth with the green tape. Jack was laughing at him – until I used the green tape to bind and cover his mouth as well…
And then I opened the door, as their mother and sister jumped in, tape over their mouths as well, and they had a little fun together…
As you may remember, I spend some time each summer offering my services at a festival – and it was from there the next home visit I can talk about arose. One of my clients from there asked if I would help supervise a family activity – one that was uniquely set to my skills.
SO I arrived at a farmhouse somewhere in the Midlands, to be greeted by a dark haired woman in her late forties. It was about ten in the morning, but when I came in I found her two teenage sons still in their pyjamas. The oldest, who was about fourteen, was wearing a white t-shirt and pyjama bottoms, while his younger brother – I think he was about twelve – was wearing a white t-shirt with grey bottoms and white ankle socks.
As we sat and drank coffee, their mother told me her boys had been pestering her to do what they called an “escape challenge” – but she was concerned they may hurt each other or her. So I said I would be happy to supervise such a game – and then I heard why their mother had been so concerned.
The boys, it came out, had seen a show where the family were tied to chairs with thin twine – and they did not believe that would work. Well, I decided to show them that sometimes, it is not what you use, it is how you use it…
I got the boys to sit on two identical chairs – wooden ones with armrests, and white upholstered seats and backs – and picked up the ball of thin twine as their mother watched. The older boy was first – I got him to put his arms on the rests, and started by tying the twine round his right arm and the armrest. And I went on from there, winding it up his arm, then round his waist and down his other arm.
From there, I took the twine round him and the chair, in the process fixing his waist and upper body to the chair back, and his legs to the chair legs. When I had finished, tie was as if a spider had wound its silk round his body to hold him to the chair – and even though I could see the impression of the twine on his arms, he was smiling and talking, so it wasn’t too uncomfortable.
His brother was laughing – and then I cut the twine, tied it off, and walked over to him, as he realised it was his turn… And indeed, a few minutes later, he was just as tightly secured to his chair, as they looked at each other. I had done what they had asked – and they seemed to be enjoying it.
But it was their mother’s turn – she was wearing a light green polo shirt and a knee length black skirt, but I didn’t think she could be tied the same way as her sons, for the sake of modesty. So I used some ropes they had to tie her to a dining chair, her wrists secured together in front of her, her body and legs tied to the chair itself.
We then spent some time talking about how they felt, and whether or not they could move – before I offered to make sure they found it difficult to speak. They looked at each other, and then nodded – which is why they spent the next hour with rolled up tea towels tied between their lips.
Often I do home visits because the people I need to see are not ready to come out yet. Two occasions on which that happened came to mind – one which involved four cousins, another a family where the children had seen something. That first time, I had read in the paper of a home invasion where the four kids had been locked in a room, while the intruders bound and gagged their mothers – and they were now too scared to go out.
That was actually a relatively simple thing to take care of – I asked the four kids if they would try something for me, and I got them to sit in a circle, all back to back. I then used two pairs of long sports socks, and tied all four together to make a band – a band which, after I told them all to put their hands in the air, I tied round all four of them so that they were held together.
I let them put their arms down, and watched as they tried to move and then giggled – which is when I asked if they would let me make it difficult to talk. They all nodded – and that was where two pairs of ankle socks came into play, each one rolled up and then put into their mouths as they tried to talk.
The slightly longer tale is around a young mother, who had a seven year old daughter and two sons, aged six and five. They were referred to me by a police officer, after they had been involved in a bank robbery – they had the bad luck to be in the building when an armed gang went in, and they had their wrists and ankles taped. The kids were having difficulty dealing with it – and did not want to leave their house.
So I went to visit them – it was a Sunday afternoon, and we sat talking for a little while, letting them talk about their fears. It was actually a situation I had experienced before – the real seat of their fear was that it had happened violently, and the men who did it to them were rough. So I took my standard approach, and asked if they would let their mother tie them instead.
To my surprise, the daughter said she would go first, so I opened the bag I had brought and got out a length of light brown rope. She was wearing a pink polo shirt, blue skirt and dark tights, so I told her mother to make a lasso with the rope, then put it over before she pulled the loop tight. It sat round her stomach, keeping her arms in place, and we all waited a minute or two as she looked at it, and then nodded that she was happy.
I got her mother to slowly wind the rope round her, making loops that went down and around her waist and wrists, her legs, and finally her ankles before she tied it off. I watched and asked her if she was all right, and she nodded – and then giggled as her mother tickled her.
Her six year old son said he wanted to go next, so I got him to sit on the floor, before his sister jumped over and lay down on the couch, her feet near her younger brother. He sat there, in his white t-shirt and denim shorts, and watched as his mother took a shorter length of red rope and tied his bare ankles tightly together. He giggled as she did that, and then I got her to tie his wrists together in front of himself. As he waved his hands round, I asked his brother to sit behind him. His mother then tied his wrists and ankles as well, the rope over his blue t-shirt and cargo shorts.
So the boys were tied back to back on the floor, as her daughter lay on her side on the couch, and they talked to each other, unafraid, able to share their fears and true feelings…
As a counsellor, I have been known to tape sessions – but for some of my sessions, I end up using tape. This was actually a night when I was having a coffee with my neighbour, while her two kids played in their bedroom. Her boy was eight years old, and I remember he was wearing a black t-shirt and over the knee fawn pants, while her six year old daughter had on a yellow top and a long striped skirt.
Anyway, they had found a roll of thin brown tape, and as we talked they were obviously doing something – but what that something was did not become clear until her daughter ran in, asking her mother to look at her. Her upper body, from her neck to her waist, was wrapped in tape so that she was mummified, but she was laughing and giggling as her brother came in, a sheepish look on his face and the roll of tape in his hand.
Their mother was about to be very angry, but I asked if she would allow me to deal with him – and I motioned for him to come over and give me the roll of tape. I then told him if he did it, he had to take it – and told him to put his hands together in front of himself.
As he and his sister watched, I taped his wrists together – and then ran the tape up and wrapped it round his arms and body as well, so that they were held firmly to his sides. He grinned, and said this was fun – and his sister said it as well, so their mother just laughed and said they should carry on.
The most recent home visit I made was to a young family, who had twin six year old girls. They had woken up one morning, got up, and gone to say good morning to their parents – to find them in the bed, lying on their stomachs, their wrists tied together behind their backs with sting, their ankles tied together, and with white tape covering their mouths.
The sight had terrified them – and they had run screaming into the street, where their neighbour had seen them. When the police came, it came out they had been the victims of a home invasion in the early hours of the morning, but had said nothing to make the intruders think there were two six year old girls asleep in another room.
A brave, and sensible thing for a parent to do – but the problem was, the girls were terrified. So the case officer asked me to call on them one day.
The girls were real cuties – light brown hair, one with it in a knot on her head, wearing a light pink leotard and lace tutu, the other with her hair loose and wearing a top with a red insect pattern on it over white leggings. Their mother was wearing a V-necked sweater and jeans, and the worried look I had seen so often as we sat and talked.
The girls were on the floor, one reading, the other drawing, but as we talked I could see the way they kept looking at me and my mother. The concern was there plainly to be seen – so I winked at them, surprising them both, and said I could see they were worried. I then took a roll of white tape from my bag, and tossed it to them, watching as they saw it land between them.
I reassured them it was not going to hurt them, and asked them to pick it up, hold it, and pass it to each other. Their mother watched as one of them slowly picked it up, held it, and then passed it to the other twin.
When I asked them if it scared them, they both shook their heads, so I then took the roll of tape back, and asked them each to hold their arm out, before I tore a small strip off and pressed one onto their bare skin, their mother watching all the time. This was a hypoallergenic tape, a wide roll, so I knew it would not harm them, but they needed to feel it for themselves as I watched.
When they both said it felt quite nice, I did something they were not expecting – I tore a long strip off, and stuck it over my own mouth, then looked at them as I tried to ask them how it looked. They both giggled, as one of them said they could see my lips move under the tape, but did not understand me.
I nodded to show I had heard them, and then I wrote something on my pad and showed it to them. What I wrote was this.
“Would you like me to put some on your mouth?”
They looked at their mother, who had been watching all three of us, and when she nodded they nodded as well, then stood in front of me. I tore a strip off for each of them, and pressed them gently – but firmly – down over their mouths, their mother watching as they turned and looked at each other, then tried to talk.
They then started to laugh – in a muted way, but we could both see the smiles under the tape, so I passed the roll to their mother – who then covered her own mouth, as we all tried to talk to each other.
So their fears were assuaged – and those of their mother as well. In fact, I am paying them a return visit today – and this time, I’m taking some ropes as well...